Diane May Nutrition Blog

How To Do The DASH

October 20th, 2015

The DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) is an excellent way to naturally lower blood pressure, but it also has many other benefits.  It can assist with weight loss, PCOS, improve cholesterol, protect against osteoporosis, diabetes, heart attack and stroke. The main premise of the DASH diet is to increase vegetables, fruits, low fat dairy, lean protein, and whole grains (with an emphasis on increasing potassium, calcium and magnesium) and to limit consumption of sweets, red meat  and sodium. To start, you should limit sodium to no more than 2400 mg, which is about 1 teaspoon, with a goal of no more than 1500mg of sodium a day, about 2/3 of a teaspoon. This could be challenging, so start slow! The servings for each food group are as follows based on a 1600 calorie a day diet. You should adjust these servings based on how many calories a day you plan on consuming.

  • Vegetables: 3-4 servings daily (minimum). Serving size examples: 1 cup dark leafy greens, 1/2 cup cooked vegetables.  Frozen is just as good as fresh!
  • Fruit: 3-4 servings daily (maximum). Serving size examples: 1 small hand fruit (apple, pear, plum), 1/2 cup fresh or frozen fruit. As long as fruit is not in heavy syrup, fruit is a great sweet treat. Keep the skin on for added fiber.
  • Grains: 6 servings daily. Serving size examples: 1 slice regular bread or 2 slices light bread, 1/2 cup cooked cereal, rice or pasta or 1 cup dry cereal (serving sizes vary per company). Make at least half of grain choices whole grain.
  • Fat free/low fat dairy: 2-3 servings daily. Serving size examples: 1 cup skim milk, 1 ounce low fat cheese, 1 small greek non fat greek yogurt.
  • Lean Protein: 3-4 servings daily. Serving size examples: 1 egg or 1 ounce cooked lean protein such as fish or poultry. Always trim visible fat and never eat skin. Good cooking methods include broiling, roasting, grilling and poaching.
  • Nuts, seeds, legumes: 3-4 per week. Serving size examples: 1 1/2 ounce nuts, 2 Tablespoons nut butter, 1/2 ounce seeds, 1/2 cup cooked beans, peas, soy or lentils (a great source of protein).  Beware nuts and seeds are very high in calories and should be portioned and consumed in moderation.
  • Fats and oils: 2 servings a day. Serving size examples: 1 teaspoon vegetable oil, 2 Tablespoons light salad dressing or 1 Tablespoon low fat mayonnaise. We should be taking in no more than 30% of our calories from fat a day. Remove trans fat (hydrogenated oils and fried foods) and saturated fats wherever you can.
  • Sweets: 3 or less servings a week.  Serving size examples: 1 Tablespoon of sugar, 1 Tablespoon jelly or jam.  Sugar is NOT a nutrient and therefore should be consumed in moderation.

DASH diet tips:

  • Add extra vegetables to lunch and dinner.  Steam fresh vegetables are a quick and convenient way to get those extra servings in daily.
  • Pay attention to sodium.  Limit packaged goods, frozen meals, deli meats, chips, pickles, soy sauce, cottage cheese, and canned goods.  Rinse canned foods three times to remove all excess sodium.
  • Use seasonings, condiments and spices.  Mrs Dash is an excellent flavor substitute and comes in many new flavors.  Lemon juice, vinegar, garlic, onions and dried/fresh herbs are an excellent way to add zing without added salt and fat.
  • Have fruit as snacks to avoid sugary temptations or switch to lower fat/sugar options such as skinny cow pops, greek yogurt pops or sugar free treats.
  • Read those food labels and educate yourself.  Most packaged goods are very high in sodium and sugar.  Try limiting foods that have a %DV greater than 20% sodium or added sugar.
  • Consider a meatless day. Experiment with legumes, beans, lentils and tofu instead of animal protein at least one day a week.
  • Get moving. Exercise has been shown to assist in lowering blood pressure. Just start with walking or any physical activity you enjoy and do it regularly!

The DASH diet has been proven to lower blood pressure (as well as many other health benefits) and it is an overall healthy way to eat.  We could all use a little extra boost! Start slow decreasing sodium and increasing fruits and vegetables and you will be on your way to heart health.

Red Curry with Vegetables

From EatingWell:  October/November 2006


 How to do the DASH



Makes: 4 servings, about 1 1/2 cups each

Active Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes




  • 4 teaspoons canola oil, divided
  • 1 14-ounce package extra-firm tofu, rinsed, patted dry and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 pound sweet potato, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 14-ounce can lite coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth or reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1-2 teaspoons red Thai curry paste
  • 1/2 pound green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 lime, quartered



  1. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add tofu and cook, stirring every 2 or 3 minutes, until browned, 6 to 8 minutes total. Transfer to a plate.
  2. Heat the remaining 2 teaspoons oil over medium-high heat. Add sweet potato and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Add coconut milk, broth and curry paste to taste. Bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until the sweet potato is just tender, about 4 minutes. Add the tofu, green beans and brown sugar; return to a simmer and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until the green beans are tender-crisp, 2 to 4 minutes. Stir in lime juice and salt. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve with lime wedges.


Per serving: 348 calories; 16 g fat (6 g sat, 4 g mono); 0 mg cholesterol; 41 g carbohydrates; 13 g protein; 7 g fiber; 451 mg sodium; 578 mg potassium.